Airmen exercise contingency response proficiency during Green Flag Little Rock 21-01

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Chad Kotce
  • 921st Contingency Response Squadron

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing tested their skills while participating in an exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center and Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Oct. 11-21.

The 10-day training event, known as Green Flag 21-01, gave the contingency response Airmen an opportunity to practice setting up and operating air bases in austere environments, all while staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of times when we do JRTC, it is a kind of smaller role … but this is a much more robust presence,” said Col. Doug Jackson, 621st CRW commander, when asked how this iteration of  JRTC compares to previous ones.

“We have multiple teams, tons of training, and the folks here have been very accommodating of the extra things we need to do because we have had to cancel some of our large-scale exercises,” he added. “This is a great example of people taking it seriously by wearing their masks and following the guidance of the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the Secretary of Defense.”

Despite dealing with the challenges of COVID-19, the 621st CRW used Green Flag 21-01 not just as an opportunity for its members to stay proficient with their core contingency response skills, but to also test out new innovative ideas.

One of the highlights of the training event was seeing if a helicopter could carry one of the CRW’s critical assets, the MRZR, in a technique called a sling-load.

“Sling-load is an essential mission capability to infill any airfield anywhere on the globe,” said Lt. Col. Robert Kline, 921st Contingency Response Squadron commander. “We used some new equipment we never had before that will be pivotal in completing that mission. By building, practicing and proving that capability, it just continues to enhance the enterprise.”

The execution of Green Flag 21-01 was made possible with support of Airmen from the 40th Airlift Squadron out of Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, the 19th Airlift Wing out of Little Rock Air Force Base, and Soldiers from the 77th Combat Aviation Brigade out of Camp Robinson, Arkansas.

In regard to future exercises and dealing with the uncertainty of COVID-19, Jackson is optimistic.

“One thing we know for sure is that our mission is not going away and it is awesome to see exercises like these show we can still do this,” he said. “We can still operate, we can maintain our readiness, we can get the training we need and we can still do whatever we’re called to do for the Department of Defense.”

Although, COVID-19 has affected the entire world, the 621st CRW remains resilient. By pushing the boundaries of their training while prioritizing safety, they are able to remain prepared to complete their mission anywhere they are sent, pandemic or not.